NFU District 1, Region 1 Newsletter
January 31, 2019
Hello to all members of the National Farmers Union in District 1, Region 1 (PEI) and a special welcome to new members who have joined this organization over the past number of months. The past months have been very busy for the NFU District Board as we try to keep abreast of the occurrences with regard to land purchases by large corporations.
District Convention – Will be held at Milton Hall on Tuesday, March 19 (March 21 is storm date).
National Convention – Nine members from PEI attended the 49th annual NFU Convention which was held in Saskatoon in late November. The theme was Food Sovereignty and many speakers and panels dealt with this subject. Newly-elected National officers include Katie Ward as President; Toby Malloy, Women’s President; Stuart Oke, Youth President; Cam Goff, 1st Vice President (Policy); Stewart Wells, 2nd Vice President (Operations), Coral Sproule, Women’s Vice President and Jessie MacInnis is the Youth Vice President. Our member on the National Board is Reg Phelan. Women’s Advisory Committee member is Carinna Phillips.
(Note from Edith Ling, Women’s District Director. I am very happy to tell you that the recipient of the Grass Roots Award at our National Convention in Saskatoon was our District Director, Doug Campbell. As you know, Doug is a very hard working District Director and this recognition is richly deserved by him. It also reflects the support he receives from his wife, Kathy and family). The award is given for exemplary leadership and work within the NFU.
50th Anniversary Convention – will be held in Winnipeg in late November 2019, the place where the NFU began in 1969. Plans are in progress to have a fitting convention and celebration in Winnipeg, and I hope you will be able to attend.
Land – As mentioned earlier, a lot of our time and effort in past months has centered on the Lands Protection Act and the ways in which large corporations in particular have been allowed to use loopholes in the legislation to amass large acreages of land. We held several meetings with the Minister responsible, Hon. Richard Brown to emphasize to him the seriousness of the situation. We have also asked that the IRAC website be made much more user-friendly so that the general public can see the various land transfers taking place. We have also asked that the IRAC website display what IRAC’s recommendation to Executive Council (Cabinet) was on each transaction. At present, the only information given is the Executive Council decision so it is impossible to find out what IRAC recommended on each transaction. Mr. Brown told us last spring that he was ordering IRAC to conduct a land review which would show the amount of land owned by non-residents and corporations. We tried all summer to get a copy of the terms of reference for this study but this document was not available until November. To say the least, it is a very vague and shallow terms of reference. We have since found out that Mr. Brown’s Department has come up with some figures on land holdings which they have sent to IRAC for verification. (IRAC was too busy with the amalgamation issue to do the study, we are told). These figures are expected sometime this month. At the time of writing this newsletter, we are investigating a purported sale of a large tract of land in Prince County.
Land Forum – It would appear the best way to have necessary changes made to the Lands Protection Act would be for the general public to become much more knowledgeable and vocal about what is going on. To this end, the Coalition for the Protection of PEI Land (of which the NFU is a member) is planning a public forum on land for Saturday afternoon, February 23, 2019 at the Farm Center, Charlottetown at 1:30 p.m. (Storm date is March 16, 2019). Senator Diane Griffin has been booked to speak on land grabbing on the national scope. Other panelists are Ian Petrie and myself (Doug Campbell). The title of the forum is “Land Grabbing on PEI: How the Lands Protection Act is Being Violated and Why Islanders Should Be Concerned”. Plan now to attend.
Trade Negotiations – The NFU is very concerned about the outcome of the USMCA (US, Mexico, Canada Agreement), particularly as it affects supply-managed commodities. Class 6 and 7 milk pricing in this deal will be ended and Americans will again be able to flood the market with discounted diafiltered milk. Canadian dairy farmers will be unable to compete with this. During the TPP negotiations, Canada gave away 3.25% of our domestic market in dairy, poultry and eggs. Now the USMCA deal has resulted in giving another 3.25% of our market to the United States. Compensation for dairy farmers amounts to giving money to farmers who expand their operations, use more modern technology, etc. Dairy farmers never wanted taxpayers’ money in the form of subsidies – all they wanted was the supply management program they had initially. Any forthcoming compensation should be available to all dairy farmers.
Study on Environmental Protection and Species At Risk – Dr. Carolyn Peach Brown, UPEI Professor is conducting this study and is interested in gaining the perspective of young farmers. If you are interested, call Dr. Peach Brown at 902-620-5066 or email email@example.com .
Rural Coalition – This coalition to fight amalgamation of rural communities is attempting to raise funds to go forward with a constitutional challenge on this issue. Lawyers have worked for free to put together the challenge. Obviously the cost of Court Action will have to be paid and the Coalition has been given a figure of $15,000 for this – a greatly reduced figure. If the challenge is successful, it would make the Municipal Governance Act illegal. The goal now is to raise the money for the Court Action. Memberships are available for $10 and can be sent to Rural Coalition of PEI, P. O. Box 152, Georgetown, P. E. I. C0A 1L0. Be sure to include your name and address
Newsletters by Email – As a cost saving measure, members with email addresses will now receive newsletters that way. If you wish to still receive a mailed copy, please call District Secretary, Dan Murphy at 902-954-0803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Watch for the next newsletter with details of our annual District Convention on March 19.
Douglas Campbell, NFU District Director
District Newsletter – March 2018
Download a pdf version here: Dist. Newsletter March 22, 2018
To: The Membership of NFU District 1, Region 1
District Convention – Our annual District Convention will be held on Tuesday, April 3 at the Milton Community Hall in North Milton (7 New Glasgow Rd., corner of Rte. 7 and 224). Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. and the meeting will be called to order at 10:00 a.m. The registration fee is $20 per person and this includes a meal at noon. Adjournment is planned for 4:00 p.m. (The storm date is Thursday, April 5). Assistance is available to those members who require child care in order to attend the Convention. If this is needed, please call Edith Ling at 902-368-1262.
The Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Robert Henderson will attend and will address the delegates following the noon meal. Hon. Richard Brown, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment will speak to the delegates on the Lands Protection Act. I am sure our members will have lots of questions for Mr. Brown following his presentation. He is also Minister responsible for the Water Act, holding ponds, high capacity wells, etc.
We will also have a presentation on the trends in the level of organic matter in Island soils. This will be delivered by Judith Nyiraneza who is a Research Scientist with Agriculture Canada in Charlottetown.
We will be considering resolutions at the District Convention and members are encouraged to submit resolutions to the Resolutions Committee prior to Convention. The members of this Committee are: J.P. Hendricken, Gordon Carter and Ranald MacFarlane.
Resolutions are a very important part of any District Convention. One of the excellent things about the NFU is the fact that members at the grass roots level are able to submit resolutions which can become national policy of the NFU (if the resolutions are national in scope and are passed at the District, Regional and National levels). I would expect that the Locals will hold meetings prior to the District Convention and resolutions to go forward to the District Convention can be dealt with at that time. Of course, members can also submit resolutions to the Resolutions Committee on the day of the Convention as well.
Elections for the positions of District Director, Women’s District Director and Youth District Director will take place at the Convention. Please make time to attend this Convention and take part in developing policy and direction for our organization in the days ahead.
Farm and Food Care – The NFU has serious concerns about this program which was instituted with $100,000 of provincial funds (for the first year). The Board of this organization includes representatives of Sobeys, Cavendish Farms, two Deputy Ministers, along with a minority of farmers, ADL, Agricultural Awareness Committee, Canadian Centre for Food Integrity, Potato Board, and a Dairy Farmers of PEI representative. Another Government study previously found that a very high percentage of Islanders already have a moderate to high level of trust in Island farmers. The group will also help in the distribution of the magazine “The Real Dirt on Farming”. The NFU sees this whole endeavour as a way to gloss over the real issues of farming from the survival of family farms, the load of debt farmers are carrying, to land and water issues, etc., etc. Those at the table who have the loudest voices, i.e. government and agri-business will be the ones whose voices and actions will prevail. It would seem that there are much better ways to spend $100,000 i.e. dealing with production issues, regulations, land and water issues.
Fuel Agreement – On March 7, 2018 the NFU Collective Bargaining Committee was successful in negotiating a fuel agreement for NFU members with Island Petroleum Ltd. The same program will apply for 2018 as in the year previous and the discount will be applied at the time of delivery of the fuel. The company has plans to be in the propane distribution business within a year so it is possible we can negotiate a deal for propane users as well at that time. The important part to remember is that in order to receive the discount, please make sure that Island Petroleum knows you are a NFU Member.
Fertilizer Agreement – The Collective Bargaining Committee will soon be negotiating an agreement on fertilizer for NFU members for 2018. Details will follow.
Meeting with Minister of Agriculture & Fisheries – The NFU had a meeting in February with the new Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Robert Henderson. This introductory meeting included a lesson on the history and philosophy of the National Farmers Union. Other topics discussed were the Farm and Food Care program, the issue of multi-faceted corporations buying up large tracts of land, the water act – holding ponds and wells. We are pleased to see in his Mandate that the Minister is responsible to promote environmental stewardship – this surely includes the land and water.
Congratulations to NFU members Allan, Coleen and Jeff MacQuarrie of MacTalla Farms in Bonshaw on winning the Holstein Canada Master Breeders Award recently. This award was started in 1929 and since that time there have only been nineteen farms in PEI to receive it. It is great to see a deserving Island farm family receive this highly-regarded award.
Select Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment – On November 2, 2017 Reg Phelan and myself met with this Committee to bring them up to date on the ways large amounts of Island farmland are being gobbled up. The Committee passed a motion to ask Cavendish Farms, Vanco Farms and the Asian Investors group to appear before a future Committee meeting to discuss their land holdings.
It is quite interesting to know that officials of the Dept. of Environment have no idea how many agricultural irrigation ponds have been put in and no idea where they are located. They also have no idea on the number of new low capacity wells which have been dug to fill the ponds. This is not surprising as there were no regulations governing the construction of the ponds – just simply suggestions or “recommendations”.
I hope to see you all at the District Convention on April 3, 2108.
Douglas Campbell, District Director, telephone 902-436-2518
District Newsletter – February 2018
Download a pdf version: NFU District 1 Newsletter Feb. 2018.
Our annual District Convention will be held on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at the Milton Community Hall in North Milton. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with the meeting getting underway at 10:00 a.m. (Storm date is the following Thursday). The registration fee of $20 per person includes a noon buffet as well. Elections will be held for the three district director positions – District Director, Women’s District Director and Youth District Director. Resolutions will be considered and if passed, those of a regional or national nature will go on to the regional meeting later in the year. This year we will hear a presentation from an Agriculture Canada scientist on the trend of organic matter levels in Island soils. The new Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Robert Henderson has been invited to attend, and we have asked the new Minister of Communities, Land and Environment, Hon. Richard Brown to speak on the Lands Protection Act. At the time of writing this newsletter, neither Minister has confirmed his attendance. If you need childcare in order to attend the Convention, please call Edith Ling at 902-368-1262 as assistance is available to those members requiring it.
Fuel Negotiations – The Collective Bargaining Committee will meet soon to negotiate a petroleum agreement for NFU members for the coming year. For the past number of years, we have had a collective bargaining agreement with Island Petroleum.
Land Symposium – Cooper Institute is organizing a symposium on the Lands Protection Act. This meeting will be held at the Milton Hall on Saturday, March 3 beginning at 1:00 p.m. The storm date is the following Saturday. Included on the agenda is a panel which will discuss the history of the land and various aspects of the Lands Protection Act.
Land – The NFU continues to be greatly concerned about the apparent loopholes which have been found and used in the Lands Protection Act. We are disturbed to see large holdings of land being bought up by multi-faceted corporations, thus making it very difficult for young farmers to obtain land or for existing family farms to expand or maintain rented land. The NFU met with the Select Standing Committee on Communities, Land and Environment on November 2, 2017 and a copy of our presentation can be found on our website at nfu/pei.ca. If you prefer to have a hard copy, please call Edith Ling at 902-368-1262. The Standing Committee passed a motion to have the Irvings, Vanco Farms and representatives of the Buddhists appear before the Committee to disclose information on their land holdings in this province. At the present time, no date has been set for this meeting. The Lands Protection Act definitely needs to be tightened up to keep our land available for Island farm families and to prevent land speculation by foreign investors. The problem as we see it is that the political will is just not there to do anything about this problem. This has to change!
Forestry – Almost equally disturbing is the wholesale clear cutting of Island woodlands. It is difficult to understand why this is happening as woodland is not considered part of a land owner’s aggregate land holding. Woods are so beneficial to help maintain the water table, to reduce wind and soil erosion, and to provide a wildlife habitat. Now with carbon pricing on the horizon, trees are important to sequester carbon from the atmosphere so it is all the more reason to maintain our woodlands.
Water Act – The new Water Act was rushed through the Provincial Legislature in its dying days. One good point is that fracking is now banned in this province. Work will continue on writing the Regulations under the Act. Public meetings are supposed to be held on developing the Regulations, and I would urge everyone to attend a meeting when they are held. Water is so important for all forms of life, and it must be preserved and protected.
Many irrigation ponds were constructed and new wells dug in the past year, no doubt in an effort to get into place before the Water Act came into being. These ponds were constructed with no regulations – just a sheet of “recommendations” from the Dept. of Environment. Many of these ponds have several wells pumping water into the pond, and a tremendous amount of water is being extracted from the ground. Government officials continue to explain that the ponds can be supplied by snowmelt and spring run-off – by the time the water is needed for irrigation, I am afraid the snowmelt and run-off water will be long gone due to evaporation. It will be very interesting to see what the Regulations have to say in regard to these holding ponds and wells.
Meeting with Minister of Agriculture – The NFU has a meeting scheduled for February 6, 2018 with Hon. Robert Henderson. Many of these issues will be discussed at that time.
AGRICULTURE AND NAFTA – The United States wants to end Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry within the next decade The US also wants to end a special program known as Clause 7 which allows Canadian producers to sell a certain cheese-making protein at less than world prices. This reduces American imports into Canada, and the US has an oversupply of this protein. Future talks on NAFTA are planned for late February.
In Union is Strength
Douglas Campbell, District Director